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A Study of Applied Management Knowledge: The Case of the Hospitality Industry.

Turkson, Elizabeth Rosalind. (2006) A Study of Applied Management Knowledge: The Case of the Hospitality Industry. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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With a large increase in the number of vocational higher education hospitality graduates entering the labour market, there seems to be a paradox of the nature of demand for these graduates in the market place. While Businesses in general desire to employ from the higher education market, questions have emerged regarding the quality of the graduates and the relevance of the knowledge acquired from their management education programmes. Despite the great emphasis in vocational higher education preparing a ready workforce, concerns are raised about the effectiveness of these programmes (Tas, 1988 and Okeiyi et al., 1994) in their preparation of future managers for the turbulent working environment. It is not clear how education actually relates to industry. The research has the aim of describing how managers accumulate knowledge, and how it is transmitted, from education or experience, to the moment when it is actually used. The literature is replete with issues concerning the ability of the products of education to transfer the knowledge gained from education to the work place. Even though the dominant view is that workplace learning and higher education learning are fundamentally different, the linked argument that education based learning is inferior and often irrelevant to workplace requirement is perceived here as being too simplistic. The counter claim from education that managers and professionals need very high levels of theory to be able to understand and function is also problematic. Each assumption is seen as including a part of the truth. The study extends the argument beyond education to include both early life experiences and early employment experiences. The research presents a qualitative case study of managers’ learning processes to acquire professional knowledge. It investigates how both management education and informal learning processes such as early experiences contribute to the development of the knowledge of managers towards competence. Taking an approach that the nature of knowledge should determine the most appropriate locus for learning, it sets out to understand the managers’ learning processes in the context of the workplace, education and other life experiences. The study uses knowledge elicitation approaches, to investigate the differential effects of knowledge acquired through education and experience. That is, to find out how these two alternative pathways are used to accumulate management knowledge. The methodology examined the knowledge and skills of 17 graduates from accredited undergraduate hospitality programmes from the United Kingdom and elicited from them examples of the knowledge used in their workplace. Using a cognitive approach, based on the critical decision method, semi-structured interviews were carried out with these subjects. It then sought to find the mode under which the knowledge was transmitted from the point of learning to application. The analysis was interpretative and found that subjects applied different types of knowledge with the nature of need depending on the demands of their job role. The need for competence in applying knowledge in human resource management, accounting and financial management, and interpersonal skills were predominant but the level of need for these areas of knowledge and skill was dependent on the demands of the situation/job and context of operation. Those at lower level of managerial ladder and in operations seemed only to need appreciation high order knowledge while those higher up needed to have both explicit and tacit understanding of these context-independent knowledge areas. The former served as a base for their thinking processes while the later informed their action. These were acquired through both the formal and informal learning processes including early nurturing processes. A key finding was a set of modes of transmission which included prototypical examples, pivotal and role model examples and scenarios which had been built up from accumulated experience. These were applied either in the form of experience turned into principles, or replication of behaviour patterns as blue prints or by interpretation of practice using theory or use of practice to reshape theory. However, this transfer of knowledge from acquisition to usage was not without problems. The findings from the managers’ stories raised concerns about the seeming lack of the ability to directly transfer what is attained from formal learning context to the work place. While acknowledging a perceived lack of ability to transfer educational knowledge into workplace practice, the issue of relevance rested on ‘usefulness’ in relation to context and level of operation rather than obsolescence. Three meta-themes emanating from the study were that of the bounded nature of knowledge which determined its usability, the interactions between different types of knowledge and learning; and that between the job, the work environment and the individual characteristics and the dual and reciprocal relationship that exist between nature of both the knowledge applied and the learning processes and activities. From the study, the three basic theories of learning contributed to the understanding of how these managers acquired their knowledge. They showed behaviourist, cognitive and humanistic learning tendencies by expressing learning as product, process and function; being capable of actions they could not perform before learning occurred. This raises the issue of the need for the education process to provide appropriate learning experiences that will enable the future manager to develop the full complement of their professional knowledge base. The study contributes to the literature of vocational management education in displaying the range of sources of knowledge and showing that different types of knowledge were acquired through different learning processes and were transmitted by different modes. Specifically, knowledge in use is a mixture of theoretical and practical know-how. The overarching theme was relationships. Management knowledge called for the understanding of the relationship between knowledge and knowing on the one hand, and theory and practice on the other. Management learning involved relationship between learners and their environment, learners and other knowledge producers, formal and informal, and cognitive and behavioural approaches. Learning indeed is an on going relational and reconstructive process which comes about when existing practices are challenged, or deemed inadequate. Those responsible for preparing these managers must therefore, provide the appropriate situations in both classroom and workplace environments that will allow effective learning to take place which is directed towards increased competence and responsibility. It is argued that the responsibility for providing the learning opportunities rests with both industry and education. This partnership between education and industry is seen as crucial as a blend of theory and practical knowhow, achievable beyond the context of experiential education is essential for managerial job preparation. The study concludes that, rather than disagreeing and apportioning blame for the perceived ‘incompetence’ of graduates from the education process, energy should be geared towards deciphering which type of knowledge is best learnt on the job and which one is best learnt in formal settings of the classroom so as to have shared responsibilities towards the making of the ‘competent hospitality manager’. This is achievable through effective collaboration which is all about relationships.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Turkson, Elizabeth Rosalind.
Date : 2006
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2006.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 14 May 2020 14:56
Last Modified : 14 May 2020 15:05

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